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NOAA/EPA Partnership to Speed Brownfields Economic Benefits: Action Will Streamline Federal Response to Support Cleanup and Redevelopment

Release Date: 01/14/03
Contact Information: Kent Laborde, NOAA (202 482-6090) Andrew Spejewski, EPA Press Office, 617-918-1014

NEW BEDFORD, MASS. -- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) formalized a working agreement today at a ceremony in New Bedford that will facilitate quicker cleanup of local brownfields. The agreement enhances interagency cooperation and collaboration in support of brownfields assessment and cleanup, community revitalization, and environmental protection efforts.

Dr. James Mahoney, NOAA deputy administrator, and Marianne Horinko, EPA assistant administrator of the office of solid waste and emergency response, signed the formal Memorandum of Understanding. It coordinates policies and activities in the remediation and recovery of brownfields – abandoned, idled, or under-used properties where redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived environmental contamination.

NOAA and EPA have been working together to address coastal brownfields since 1997 through interagency agreements.

"This agreement will bring an economic boost to the community in less time," said Mahoney. "By streamlining the operations and coordinating the policies, the people of New Bedford will be able to see the impact of our work here unfold very rapidly. We hope that this will set a new benchmark for interagency cooperation."

NOAA and EPA have protected natural resources and habitats under NOAA's jurisdiction, as well as mitigated possible effects of hazardous-material releases.

"This MOU lays the groundwork for EPA's further collaboration with NOAA and other agencies to provide life to aging port cities," said Horinko. "I am delighted that EPA is partnering with NOAA and the City of New Bedford to support the environmental health and economical revival of the city's brownfields. This program provides communities the opportunity to change an unproductive location into a vital, thriving area, bringing much needed development."

"Many coastal areas, like New Bedford, are working hard to make their waterfronts productive and enjoyable parts of their communities," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator for EPA's New England Office. "This agreement will allow EPA and NOAA to be more effective at helping communities across New England and the country continue that work."

This agreement will serve as a model to respond to the needs of coastal communities as they clean up and sustainably redevelop brownfields. This may include:

    • crafting a joint brownfields strategy
    • jointly identifying and implementing actions that link brownfields assessment and cleanup with coastal habitat restoration and waterfront revitalization planning and implementation
    • jointly developing and supporting research that addresses brownfields issues
    • jointly planning and implementing actions that enhance the assessment, cleanup and redevelopment of brownfields properties in coastal and tribal communities.
New Bedford has an industrial history of environmental contamination. It is one of only 28 locations designated by the EPA as a "Brownfields Showcase Community." The community has started a significant revitalization of its waterfront through the brownfield program.

President Bush signed the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act in January 2002 with broad bipartisan support. This legislation demonstrates unprecedented recognition of the environmental and economic ramifications of brownfields and the need to address them.

EPA is the lead federal agency for brownfields with more than 20 other federal agencies supporting the effort. Through the 2002 Brownfields Federal Partnership Action Agenda, these agencies committed to working together in a timely manner to help communities more effectively prevent, assess, clean up, and sustainably reuse brownfields.

EPA has committed to providing up to $850 million over the next five years through assessments, cleanups, revolving loan funds, job training and state/tribal grants. NOAA committed to leading an interagency project that will focus on the redevelopment and reuse of brownfields in and around ports, harbors and marine transportation hubs.

As a Brownfields Showcase Community, the city of New Bedford received $200,000 for environmental assessments and a federal on scene coordinator. NOAA is providing the federal coordinator for New Bedford and, in conjunction with EPA, is assisting the city in its efforts to revitalize its waterfront brownfields, as well as other brownfields in New Bedford.

NOAA, an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events. NOAA provides environmental leadership of our nation's coastal and marine resources.

For more information about NOAA, the EPA, and brownfield programs please visit: